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ENG: College Composition : West Potomac High School Dual Enrollment (AL): Background Information

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Encyclopedias & Reference

The online encyclopedias and reference sources can be used from off campus- you will be prompted to log in with your myNOVA username and password.

Why to Use Reference Books

An encyclopedia is a type of reference book.   Use a reference book to:

  • Define important vocabulary words related to your topic,
  • Find a basic overview and main issues related to your topic,
  • Learn references to additional resources, and
  • Discover important background information related to your topic.

Search Tips

Select the most important 1-2 ideas related to your topic.  Put the word AND between each new word or idea; this tells the database to look for resources with ALL your terms.

el salvador AND war

Use quotation marks ( "  " ) around phrases:

"el salvador" AND "civil war"

Because reference articles are basic and general, what you type in the search box should also be fairly general and not too specific.

As You Explore...

Think about and look for the following:

  • Is there information written about your topic?
  • What are some ways to focus the topic?
  • Are there particular demographic groups, locations or time periods to focus on?
  • Are there problems/solutions?
  • Who is (or should be) involved/impacted (e.g., government, non-governmental organizations, local community groups, individuals, businesses, etc.), and how?

Write down: main ideas, important events, key people and organizations, key issues or controversies